Google investigating ‘brutal’ Local Service Ads tactic destroying leads for businesses

This Google loophole enables competitors to intentionally manipulate the system, making your ads invisible without your knowledge.

Chat with SearchBot

Google is investigating a devastating Local Service Ads (LSA) tactic that could “nuke competitors out of existence.”

When more than one LSA is linked to a Google Business Profile (GBP), the ad becomes invisible, killing off all leads. Alarmingly, competitors can use this loophole to intentionally create an LSA linked to your GBP without your knowledge, preventing your ad from reaching consumers.

Why we care. If your GBP has unexpectedly stopped generating leads, it may be due to someone else linking an LSA to your GBP. Identifying this issue requires consultation with your Google support representative.

Drop in leads. The initial complaint surfaced when a business owner shared their experience on the Google Business Profile forum. They reported that their LSA was performing well initially. However, overnight, their leads and even spam abruptly ceased, leaving them puzzled about the root cause of the issue. They elaborated:

  • “I finally got a rep to look into it and he told me that our Google my business profile has two LSA’s linked to it, which is causing our ad to be invisible. When I check our GMB there is only one account linked to us, and it’s the one that I set up. I’ve only ever set up one LSA account, and I’m the only one with the access and credentials to do so.”
  • “I’m being told that I cannot unlink this other unknown LSA account because I don’t know any of the credentials of that other account. Their solution was for me to unlink our 10 year old account with established reviews and start a new google business profile from scratch. This is a horrible suggestion in my mind. Why would an unknown entity get to force us off of our own Google listing.”
  • “There must be a way where we can re-verify our account and eliminate any LSA’s we don’t approve of. We did hire a company to run a website for our owner (the GMB account is the same as the company’s), but they aren’t running LSA’s for us.”

‘Brutal tactic’. Commenting on the flagged issue, Ben Fisher, Co-Founder/Lead Consultant at Steady Demand, urged Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin to investigate the loophole on X. He wrote:

  • “This is a brutal new tactic that competitors are doing on LSA. A competitor makes a new LSA for a competitor and because the link to GBP is automatic the system will essentially nuke the competitor out of existence.”
  • “@adsliaison this is wrong on many levels.”

What Google is saying. Marvin responded shortly after to confirm Google was looking into the issue.

Update. Following an investigation, Google updated Search Engine Land to confirm that the issue was an “isolated incident” on February 9. Google Ads Liaison Officer Ginny Marvin said:

  • “We have investigated this issue and determined there were multiple factors at play such that this was an isolated incident. We are communicating directly with the customer about this case.
  • “We have existing processes in place for honoring Google Business Profile (GBP) ownership.”

Get the daily newsletter search marketers rely on.

Deep dive. Read the Google Business Profiles forum, where the issue is being discussed,  for more information.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Nicola Agius
Nicola Agius was Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land from 2023-2024. She covered paid media, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company's editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book Mastering In-House SEO.

Get the must-read newsletter for search marketers.